On Anne Hathaway

Never in my life have I written a poem for a reason other than a class assignment; admittedly, most of those poems look and read like prose except I made the paragraphs look like stanzas. My brain just doesn’t seem to work when it comes to writing (or analyzing) poetry. This is why it was so startling to me when I perused Duffy’s journals how the poems seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Do you remember those concrete poem outlines from elementary school? They were lines made to look like a specific shape (circle, diamond, Christmas tree) and the instruction was to write a poem on the lines about what the shape could be. So, for instance, you might write a poem about baseball on a diamond shaped outline. I think this is how I would have to write a sonnet. I would have to have fourteen lines with the rhyme scheme written out to the side and it would probably take me days to figure out how to write in pentameter.

The only words about Duffy’s sonnet, “Anne Hathaway,” before the actual poem are a note to check Shakespeare’s will to see what it says about the second best bed to Anne Hathaway. Then on the next page, the poem is written in full. There are minor edits; Duffy changes “swear” to “dream” on the seventh line, “dreaming” to “dribbling” on the twelfth line, and “his timeless” to “my lover’s” on the third line.

These minor edits make the poem slightly better in my opinion, but they don’t change any part of the poem dramatically. So, in essence, on November 30, 1998 (thirteen years ago today), Carol Ann Duffy wrote “Anne Hathaway” as it is published today.

Now that I have had a chance to examine and analyze Duffy’s manuscripts, I respect her creative mind much more. I go about writing poetry in a very mathematical way; it appears that Duffy’s poems flow from her mind to the paper with no intermediary.


2 Comments on “On Anne Hathaway”

  1. Brittany Stoudemire says:

    One of the things that I have noticed so far is that most of our class has figured that Duffy is a skilled writer as you mentioned in your post. I found it very interesting that this poem also had very little edits which I am finding as a kind of common thread throughout TWW.

    Did you find this to be the same for your experience with Mean Time?

  2. Zach Sold says:

    It’s definitely impressive that Duffy is able to just materialize a sonnet like “Anne Hathaway.” I too have labored over the meter and rhyme scheme of a sonnet and it is certainly no easy task. Still, we have to wonder as Professor Croxall said, if maybe there are more drafts somewhere but they are simply not included in the collection we have at Emory.
    Still I also found that the poem “Eurydice” which exhibits a lot of word play and an irregular rhyme scheme, was also written in only a few drafts, with only minor changes. This poem is also much longer and maintains rhyme throughout so you may be write in saying that perhaps Duffy is simply able to produce these poems as quickly as it seems.